African Tailorbird Artisornis metopias Scientific name definitions

Flemming P. Jensen and Peter F. D. Boesman
Version: 2.0 — Published December 23, 2022



Little is known about the behavior of the African Tailorbird except that it is highly territorial and usually moves in pairs low in dense vegetation.


Little information except that it has been observed hopping through low dense vegetation in pairs, occasionally in small groups (44).


Information needed.

Agonistic Behavior

Reported to be highly territorial, with pair members defending the territory using duetting and closely approaching the perceived intruder (14). Aggressive territorial behavior was also recorded in response to playback of African Tailorbird songs (14).

Sexual Behavior

Information needed.

Social and Interspecific Behavior

Degree of Sociality

Little information, but seems to occur in pairs year-round. Has also been recorded in small groups (44), which are likely family groups.

Nonpredatory Interspecific Interactions

Very unusual among African montane birds, the African Tailorbird co-occurs with its sister species the Long-billed Tailorbird (Artisornis moreaui) in two mountain areas; the East Usambara Mountains in northeastern Tanzania and Serra Jeci in northwestern Mozambique, 950 km away.

In the East Usambara Mountains, the two species are partly segregated by elevation, with the Long-billed Tailorbird occurring at slightly lower elevations (ca. 800 m and higher) than the African Tailorbird (ca. 1,000 m and higher) (24). In these mountains, both species spend considerable time in the undergrowth (below 5 m), but the Long-billed Tailorbird also ventures into the mid-canopy and has been recorded as high as 24 m (24, 47). At Serra Jeci, the elevational band of forest is so narrow (primarily 1,600–1,850 m) that it is unlikely to permit any elevational segregation. Here the African Tailorbird is observed primarily in the understory and the Long-billed Tailorbird in the mid-canopy (42, 39, 14). At Mount Chitagal (Mozambique), the African Tailorbird was found exclusively in the understory, particularly at forest edge and clearings in both riparian and evergreen forests (14).

Sometimes associated with columns of driver ants, where it may obtain prey items flushed by ants (44). Appears not to join mixed-species bird flocks, but such behavior could go undetected since the species usually remains hidden in dense undergrowth.


Information needed.

Recommended Citation

Jensen, F. P. and P. F. D. Boesman (2022). African Tailorbird (Artisornis metopias), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.afrtai2.02